When Predators GM David Poile decided to keep Ryan Suter at the trade deadline instead of trading him, he pushed all of his chips to the center of the table and declared himself ‘all in’. It was the right thing to do for the franchise.
Poile did everything he could at the trade deadline to improve the roster in hopes of not only winning a Stanley Cup, but showing Suter a commitment to winning. He improved the roster in every way imaginable. He traded for Hal Gill, Paul Gaustad and Andrei Kostitsyin, and allowed Alexander Radulov to come back and fulfill his entry-level contract. Every single move addressed a specific need.
Since then, Poile has made his sales pitch to Suter on a couple of occasions, trying to show him that the Predators are committed to being contenders – not only now, but for many years to come.
Poile further solidified that commitment last week when he stated publicly that he will not be trading the negotiating rights of the 27-year-old free agent to be.
“We have been very loyal to Ryan,” Poile said. “We are sticking with that. We have never tried to trade him or entertain any offers for him.”
And that’s the way it should be handled. Now is not the time to bail. Now is the time to press on full steam ahead.
Less than 10 days from July 1st and the Suter situation has officially cast a shadow over the franchise. It’s impossible not to think about Suter when analyzing the roster, the draft and every other decision Poile is mulling over.
“It certainly polarizes us a little bit because trying to replace Suter in terms of quality of player, that’s not going to be easy,” Poile said last week. “Secondly, before I can assign certain dollars to certain players, I’ve got to be careful because I don’t know how much I’m paying Suter. It’s not a perfect situation.”
No, this is far from a perfect situation – but now is not the time for the veteran GM to sit back and wait to see how things develop.
Now is the time to spend every waking moment of draft weekend burning up the phone lines, exploring every single possibility in an effort to make one more splash – the type of splash that seals the deal and convinces Suter to re-sign with the Predators.
From top to bottom, the organization has been planning for this moment for the last year. Financially and otherwise, they’ve spent countless hours preparing for this situation, doing everything they can as a franchise to keep Suter in Nashville. And here we are, just a few hundred yards from the finish line. Much like the winner of a horse race, the winner of the Suter Sweepstakes won’t be decided until the final stretch.
Who knows what will happen when the bidding war beings. Suter doesn’t seem like the type that would rush to make a decision. Poile is likely to have an opportunity to make a final pitch and match any offer, but who knows for sure? So why not start that pitch now by making a statement and bringing in a game-changing forward.
Many are rumored to be available for the right price. Is the right price one that Poile is willing to pay? Under most circumstances, probably not; but these aren’t most circumstances.
Poile was willing to make an unconventional move (by his standards) at the trade deadline when he tried to acquire Columbus Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash (who is still available via trade). He was unable to land the prized forward, but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort. Poile reportedly offered up a substantial package that included three or four of the franchise’s top assets.
While the prospects of watching the likes of Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi on defense, Colin Wilson and Craig Smith at forward develop into elite talents excites many, watching one of the greatest defensive duos in NHL history for the rest of the decade is even more exciting.
If Suter signs elsewhere, Poile will have failed. Fairly or unfairly, this is a defining moment for the longtime Predators GM.
At this point he must do whatever it takes, short of trading away the stars and giving Suter the moon, to keep the All-Star defenseman in Nashville.